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Month: February 2020

We’ve become scuba snobs

We’ve become scuba snobs

17-Febrero-2020 Lunes, Cozumel.

Eric http://ChallengeDiving.com what’s holding up the show? The lines about 9 vehicles deep. (New officer at the gate.)

Hey you! You stole that cart from Bodega Aurrera. That’s either one hell of a walk with the cart or you put it in a pickup truck. I know it wasn’t on your scooter. Mr Aurrera probably hasn’t been down here for a while.

Siphoning gas to fill the tank. I was wondering how he was going to pour the gas in when he walked by with the container. Icky

Once again I have lied in this blog. You ARE going to get more scuba pictures. It’s just too cool. We went through some giant coral formations at Planacar Caves. My poor camera just can manage pictures of the big stuff. Todays pictures are from a different section of Cedar Pass reef. More small coral and different fish. Thanks Eric Jr for the pictures.

Small coral formations https://youtu.be/bUtTNHl27Dg You can really see how strong the current is.

Sea Anemone https://youtu.be/-MKQLuyziGs

Un-puffed puffer fish (porcupinefish) https://youtu.be/IgqYtQqBM6Q

School of Barracuda https://youtu.be/B74QTHfXw1c

Sleeping Shark https://youtu.be/xXOFKx_0iqw

Filefish https://youtu.be/AJO6Cxv03f4

Queen Angelfish https://youtu.be/UQr35vsy5Ck

Flounder https://youtu.be/6qifzWAEj7w

If Sunsets restaurant wasn’t along the way home we would make it home faster. It’s hard to pass up 2 4 1 happy hour when we are walking home mid-day in the heat.

We’ve become scuba snobs.

Sand Dollar Sports is right next door to Sunsets. They share patio access to a little reef. Sand Dollar Sports offers snorkeling, snuba and scuba access to the reef. Below is a group of people from one of the cruise lines gearing up for I’m guessing a ‘discover scuba’ class.

Buenas noches

She’s baaaack! Just in time for Carnaval. You can’t even tell where she broke her arm.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Termites which build these arboreal nests are called Nasutitermes walkeri and Microcerotermes. The arboreal nest is generally connected to another part of the colony in the root crown of the tree. These termites have mud tunnels to connect from the ground to the upper tree canopy. They can also have a maze of tunnels underground.

Scoot’n Around

Scoot’n Around

16-Febrero-2020 Domingo, Cozumel.

The Disney Cruise Ship is in the downtown harbor today. (Jim and Susan, this pictures for you.)

Scoot’n around. Scoot’n around. Scoot scoot scoot’n around.

And we are off north on Melgar as far as we can go.

Cozumel Country Club and Audubon Preserve

Past some of the industrial section

Southwestern side of Cozumel, rounding the tip then heading north up the east side.

Bufadores (Snorters a.k.a Blowholes )

Hard life for plants here on the east side

They got themselves a pig. A fresh one. Doesn’t even stink. It’ll be gone by nightfall.

Coconuts Restaurant is really coconuts.

View from our table

I looked down and there were chickens next to me!

But I hadn’t seen anything yet……. Looking across to the other table. One of the women was suddenly topless.

Her friends started join her….

I was going to join in but I was too busy taking pictures.

OMG!!!!! There’s going to be an encore!!!!

LOL. The staff suggested they move to a more scenic location for the picture. They walked right by our table. I followed them. And about a dozen men too.

It was a prettier location. (all but 2 were completely nude)

This poor lady was having trouble getting her thong back on. She put it on backwards first. Since she was standing right beside me and I’ve never worn a thong before, I asked how you tell the front from the back. She explained the decoration goes in front. Her husband had to help her.

Back in the city back running with the pack. It’s a live video game.

How things change. When we first got here we were afraid to cross the street. And here we are cruising Melgar!

Buenas noches

It was closing in on sunset as we started walking home from dropping off the scooter.

One of the biggest flags I’ve ever seen.

Rounding another corner we noticed the flag was being taken down and hurried over to watch. What do you do with a flag that big?

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Mexico’s flag is made up three vertical stripes. The left green stripe stands for hope, the middle white stripe represents purity, and the right red stripe represents the blood of those who died fighting for Mexico’s independence. The picture of an eagle eating a snake is based on an Aztec legend.

In the fourteenth century, a group of Chichmecas (warrior nomads) called the Aztecs (or Mexicas) settled in Mexico when they saw an eagle (representing the sun) standing on a cactus (a symbol of the heart) clutching a snake (a symbol of the earth or Quetzalcoatl)—an image which is now depicted on the Mexican flag.

Kicked out of the nest (republished)

Kicked out of the nest (republished)

15-Febrero-2020 Sábado, Cozumel. (Republished – this time with pictures)

We have been kicked out of the nest now that we have completed our PADI Open Water certification. Eric Sr passed us off onto his son Eric Jr so we could have experience with a different divemaster.

One more day of diving pictures and then diving pictures are on a hiatus. (Thanks Eric Jr for helping take pictures and movies.)

Swim through

There are a bunch of bricks on the ocean floor sprinkled here and there. In the early 1900’s a ship in heavy seas lost part of its cargo. One of the reefs is named Palancar Bricks because there are so many bricks spilled in that area.

Divers come by and rearrange them to spell words or make pictures. Not sure what is spelled below.

You can’t tell from the pictures but all of these fish are 18 inches to 2 feet.

Fishy links

https://youtu.be/max5Io15crg

https://youtu.be/NeLCMr8u_tg

https://youtu.be/QkHyWoZ1gzM

Large eagle ray at Cozumel Cedar Pass Reef. https://youtu.be/oslK5Ey-ACI

I forgot my sun hat so we took a taxi home.  Our siestas started early today.

Buenas noches

Love this lady

Earlier this week she started on a Darth Vader helmet.

Tonight I see it is completed and on the shelf for sale.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Yesterday we dove in a group of five plus a divemaster and today we dove in a group of three plus divemaster. The maximum divers a divemaster can lead is eight.  Eric Sr told us when he started the ratio was one dive master was 25 :1.  He said it was a nightmare. Novice, newly certified divers were in groups with expert divers. It was hard to keep the group safe, under control and together.   Thinking herding cats.

Another interesting thing Eric Sr told us was that there are only 300 diving licenses for Cozumel. This means that a maximum of 300 client divers may dive on any given day. Divemasters are not included in the diving license count.  Snorkel boats don’t have license restrictions other than boat capacity.

Diving licenses cost $10,000 USD. Eric Sr owns his boat the Sleeping Shark and 10 licenses. Today we had 9 divers, four dive masters plus the captain on the boat. The other divemasters pay a fee to rent space and licenses to take their clients out on a boat if they do not own one.

70% of the earth is covered with water. Non-diver, I hope you enjoy your 30%.

Feliz día de San Valentín

Feliz día de San Valentín

14-Febrero-2020 Viernes, Cozumel.

Feliz día de San Valentín (Happy Valentines Day)

We celebrated by taking our first dive as PADI certified open water divers.

Lead weights used to help control buoyancy and trim. Some weights are placed in shoulder pouches of your BCD (buoyancy compensator device) vest and others in pouches at your waist. The old style dive belts with lead hanging from them aren’t used much anymore. The integrated BCD weight pouches are safer and more effective for weight distribution/trimming.

Along the way

We were on the outskirts of hell today and below is the picture to prove it. It was so hot walking home from the dive it felt like our clothes were being flat ironed right on our bodies.

Valentine’s Supper

Nothing says I love you like splitting a hot dog from a street vendor for Valentine’s supper. Romantic, sitting at this little stand right there on Avenida 30. Out there for any of the whizzing by scooters to hit us. 🙂

We’ve been walking by this hot dog vendor every night since we got here. He always has a line waiting for food.

We had ‘The Works’. A nice, toasted hot dog bun, slathered in mayonnaise, grilled hot dog wrapped in bacon, mustard, giant squirt of hot sauce completed with a heap of grilled onions. Divine!

Buenas noches

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

My fingers looked like moral mushrooms after getting on the boat from the second dive.

Blood vessels just under the skin constrict as an involuntary nervous system reaction to skin’s immersion in water. This causes the upper layers of skin to pucker and wrinkle.

We know how our fingers shrivel up when wet, more research is needed to validate why.

We’ve mastered the style of Mexican living

We’ve mastered the style of Mexican living

13-Febrero-2020 Jueves, Cozumel.

This is turning into a food blog

We went out to breakfast for a change. I got a traditional Yucatan breakfast. Scrambled eggs with chaya, fried plantain, chilliquias and black beans.

Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) is a shrub native to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. It sometimes called or tree spinach.

Chaya is a good source of protein, vitamins, calcium, and iron; and is also a rich source of antioxidants. Raw chaya leaves are toxic as they contain a glucoside that can release toxic cyanide. Cooking is essential prior to consumption to inactivate the toxic components. Cooking destroys also destroys stinging hairs. (I should have checked out wiki before I ordered it.)

We’ve mastered the style of Mexican living. Can’t make it past 2PM without a siesta.

Jack Hammer completed the tiled wall!

Fitting in the second to last piece of tile.

The crew currently working on the condo is a lively bunch. Music playing all the time and the crew singing along. Loudly and laughing. I find it entertaining. Dale, not so much. I will agree though that it was a bit disruptive during our mid-day siesta today.

Cena (Supper)

We had supper this evening at la Kondesa. (.7 mile walk one way) Lovely restaurant with great ambiance.

The cat came with the food. She followed the waiter over and placed herself between Dale and I as the food was put on the table. Her ploy worked. I did feed her.

When our table was cleared the cat left, watching for the next waiter to serve food.

All restaurants have one or more pets.

Grocery Store

For people who eat out almost everyday we sure seem to go to the grocery store a lot. I can honestly say I haven’t cooked a meal since we came to Cozumel. Dale has done the cooking. (Thanks Dale)

I just like to look around.

Buenas noches

This design doesn’t seem well thought out ?

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Mexican laws state that tequila can be produced only in the state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. It is made from a single type of agave plant – the agave tequilana (blue agave).

agave tequilana (thanks wiki for the picture)

Mezcal is a Mexican distilled spirit that is made from the agave plant. It does not have the restrictions tequila does.

Agave plant

El Centro. Three tequila shops within two blocks. The trendy new tequila flavor is peanut butter tequila. I’m not trying it.

Certified

Certified

12-Febrero-2020 Miércoles, Cozumel.

Our morning walk, along the way

This super yacht has been hanging around the harbor. It’s the only one we’ve seen so far here in Cozumel. Not like Exhuma Bahamas.

Plvs Vltra – Private. Not for charter. 5,000 mile range. Sleeps 12 plus 19 Crew.
https://www.yachtcharterfleet.com/luxury-charter-yacht-35277/plvs-vltra.htm

I finally found sombreros for pidgeons. I bought a dozen. All I need to do now is catch them and glue the sombreros on.

Men at work.

Certified!

Certified! Completion of the written test. Dale and I are graduates of the Open Water diver class for recreational scuba diving. We can now rent tanks and dive world wide.
Thanks Eric! You have been a great instructor. challengediving@gmail.com

Dale and I are a pretty good match. He and I got the exact same score on each set of exams, but got different question wrong. The exact thing happened we we took our USPS Navigation certification tests!

Buenas noches

Cozumel is filled with murals. Just like I finally had to quit obsessively taking pictures of VW Bugs, I had to quit obsessively taking pictures of murals. Here’s just a few.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Artists in Mexico can pay their taxes using artwork. ( I’m not sure if any of the above murals were ‘tax payment’.)

Kids! Send money!

Kids! Send money!

11-Febrero-2020 Martes, Cozumel.

Kids! Send money! Just wondering if this would work. We are having too much fun.

Casa Cereza (Cherry House)

La Casa Cereza where we are staying is alive with color.

We have only seen one fly the entire time we’ve been here in Cozumel. I’ve heard there are mosquitoes around but we haven’t seen any. La Casa Cereza is well made with simplistic beauty. Even in this well made home sunlight streams along side the door.

I’m pleasantly surprised I haven’t seen cucarachas in la Casa Cereza. This is extraordinary for a southern climate home where cucarachas are a fact of life.

Now ants, they are an interesting lot. There was an ant freeway from the bathroom light switch to the bathroom door. By the time I got the bug spray they were gone. Ants pop up briefly at various locations then quickly disappear. I think they are having rave parties.

Neighbors

Corpus Christi Church

Valentines Day is in the air

Buenas noches

A ferris wheel along with other amusements are in town for Carnaval.

The ferris wheel is powered by an old 4-stroke engine and pullies. The guy sits on a seat, puts it in gear and runs it like a car (while playing with his cell phone).

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Caesar Salad Was Invented in Mexico
Legend has it that Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini invented the salad in 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico. According to The Telegraph, Cardini owned a restaurant in the tourist destination to “attract Americans frustrated by Prohibition.

What do you call a rooster looking at a lettuce?
Chicken-sees-a-salad

Skip the Caesar salad. I want desert.
Walking On The Moon

Walking On The Moon

10-Febrero-2020 Lunes, Cozumel.

WOO WOO. Today we completed our PADI Open Water skills certification. (We take our written test Wednesday). Aquaman came out for the big event.

The guy to the left in the orange vest was checking license of all the dive masters and boat operators.

There were over 50 boats in the area where we entered our dive.

Walking On The Moon

Rolling of the side of a dive boat into the water is exhilarating! Full of anticipation you transcend from a heavily weighted into weightlessness and an alien world.

Do you know why divers roll backwards of the boat?
If they rolled forward they’d smash their faces on the floor.

skills testing at the surface

I’ve pretty much given up ‘trying’ to take pictures of fish. If they drift by me I’ll try to take a shot.
Así es la vida (This is life)

walking on the moon
baby barracuda in the deep blue sea
swims so wild
swims so free
The dive has come to an end. Signal for boat to pick us up.

Homeward slowly

Nachos at Sunsets. Jeronimo gave us 2 for one beer even though it wasn’t happy hour.

There is a small reef at Sunsets. As long as I was still wet from the dive I waded in and checked it out… Not much for coral but there was a lot of fish.

New uses for old dive tanks

Buenas noches

Jack Hammer is still at work on the tile. It’s been about two weeks since he started.

He has been working with a grinder that has no guard, with no eye protectors and no ear plugs. It’s kinda like giving tools to a 10 year old. Glad to see he has a safety line today. I’m not sure if it is tied off or if the other guy is just holding it. I suspect the later. 😮

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

The Mesoamerican Reef System (a.k.a. Great Mayan Reef) is just off Cozumel’s southwestern coast. It is the world’s second-longest coral reef system (only Australia’s Great Barrier Reef beats it) spanning about 600 miles along the coasts of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala to the coast of Honduras.

The average temperature of Cozumel hovers near 80 degrees year-round and the waters have 150-250 feet of visibility. The clear water helps sunlight hit deeper depths of the water, allowing coral to grow deeper and be more protected.

Today’s dive was a little murky and not sunny. It’s breath taking when it is sunny and the water is clear.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

09-Febrero-2020 Domingo, Cozumel.

Game of Thrones. The votes are in. 💃 🕺 💃 🕺 💃 🕺 💃 🕺

👑 Rey and Reina del Carnival Alondra de la Rocha and Jorge Martin🎉
👑 Rey and Reina del Alegría (Joy) Diana Cárdenas and Víctor Cruz 🎭
👑 Rey and Reina del Fantasía (Fantasy) Laura Díaz and Oscar Zavalegui ✨

The performance was two hours of high-energy, non-stop, no intermission awe and amazement. Each king and queen candidate strutted their stuff for 20 minutes and four costume changes, with several different dance troupes. The square was packed for the performance. I had to raise my camera above my head, point, pray and shoot to take pictures.

JLo and Shakira we great Super Bowl halftime entertainment but queen candidates out danced them.

The problem with point, pray and shoot. You never know what you are going to get.

The above dance troupe was comprised of niñas (young girls). I’m guessing they are probably 12 – 14 years old.

Not all the dancers were young trim and svelt. A hand full of dancers looked to be my age and some were twice my size. They were all beautiful. I know I couldn’t dance like that. You go girl!

At some point I just quit taking pictures to simply enjoy the show. I can hardly wait for the Mardi Gras Parades!

Buenas noches

HAHA! The Hooter’s owl is a giant bobble head. It bobbles in the breeze.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

Mexico is the world’s largest producer of silver (5600 MT) followed by Peru (4100 MT) and China (3600 MT). There are many beautiful pieces of silver-jewelry and silver statutes in the stores of San Miguel.

Every breath you take

Every breath you take

08-Febrero-2020 Sábado, Cozumel.

Every breath you take….. comes out of a can. ~21% oxygen and ~79% nitrogen. Same as the air we normally breathe.

My cousin Mark and his wife Tanya the Terrific are avid divers. They hooked us up for snorkeling with the dive master they use the first full day we were here on Cozumel. After snorkeling one day …  We Mary decided we need to do the Discover Scuba class. And then we Mary decided we needed to get PADI Open Water certified

Today was our fifth day of diving and our second day of our PADI Open Water Certification class.

I took a lot of pictures today but only few turned out … camera lense without a zoom, drifting speed, I needed to be lower in water, cloudy day, no flash light, crappy photographer … Oh well, I got what I got and then there’s mañana.

Taking picture of a reef is like taking pictures of the grand canyon or mountain range. You really have to experience it.
Looking good Dale!

It’s tough to decide if it is more fun to swim above the reef or along the wall or bottom. You see more detail the lower and closer you are but the panorama from above the reef is breath taking.

The current so strong in one area my water shirt was flapping in the wind water current.

Below is a No Stop/NDC (No decompression) time table. It very simplistically states that if you dive to a depth of 35 feet you are relatively safe to remain there for 205 minutes without having to go through decompression. It also implies if you have equipment failure you can swim rapidly to the surface with minimal decompression risk. (There’s a bit more to this, but close enough.)

I was surprised at how long we could actually dive without worrying about decompression. Our dives are approximately 50 minutes to an hour in length and we dive twice each time we are out.

And when you are only halfway in you are neither in nor out

Both sides

picture of the day
Two women trying to take a picture of the same dog. Me, I’m taking a picture of the women taking a picture of the dog. But since the dog is in it I guess it really makes three women taking a picture of the dog.

Pre-Mardis Gras party at the convention center

Buenas noches

Statue commemorating scuba divers.

Hechos Graciosos (Fun facts)

The red poinsettia (which the Aztecs called cuetlaxochitl) originated in Mexico and is named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States ambassador to Mexico (in the 1820s).
This is the only poinsettia I’ve seen in Cozumel.